Written by: Chen Jiulin (20-E1)
Designed by: Jolene Leow (20-E1)
The consistent beeping of the phone line was discordant with my beating heart. Not that it was irregular, I wasn’t having a heart attack, it just went a lot faster than the almost melodic tone. Still, was I really going to do it? I couldn’t be serious, could I? Or perhaps I was. As if I was standing on the edge of the roof of a high rise building, sweat built up in my palms. It only struck me a while back how short I had lived my life, and that I had numerous regrets left. Not that it mattered, since—
“Well, are you going to talk?”
Drowned in my thoughts, I didn’t realise the phone call had gotten through.
“Mummy ah? I’ll be…going out for a bit.”
“Huh? Going where? Have you done your Econs yet?”
“I’m…going to be away from some time.”
“Until what time? You coming back for dinner, or not? Where are you going?”
“I might not be able to.”
“Eating out with friends ah?”
I did not know how to answer. A stifled confirmation was all I could offer.
“Don’t anyhow spend your time ah, you don’t want to retain another year, right? So focus more on your studies a bit.”
Again, a basically silent whimper of agreement was all I could let out.
“Mummy, I…still love you.”
“Aiya, you only say that when you want something from me.”
She hung up. It was beginning to rain outside. When I realised how much time I had wasted being hesitant, the sound of raindrops was reverberating throughout the entire house. I looked out the window. The whole of Singapore was eerily quiet, prepared for some sort of disaster. I couldn’t tell if I was happy or scared for what was to come next.
Everybody should know what would happen next, because literally every news outlet would have covered it in the past week or so. Some kind of vague, alien invasion. It was a little bit disappointing when you thought about it. It wasn’t some all out war, some ominous asteroid approaching Earth, it just…appeared out of nowhere, a conventionally domed, smooth-rimmed, metallic UFO.
The UFO had appeared, hanging forebodingly above Marina Bay Sands, as if it had always been there before. The saucer floating above the boat had no name, or did not name itself. It just hovered over the modern landscape of Singapore, a modern…contraption in itself. Quite frankly, it would become quite the landmark had it stayed there motionless, staring out onto the cityscape. But it just had to be belligerent. Or at least believed to be. The most boring approach to the most boring outcome. Yet it was because of their mundanity that it was scary, because it was not hard to imagine the result of it if they succeeded. Obviously, the most likely reason for an invasion was because they wanted to experiment on humans; and we are at serious risk. The entirety of humanity was at risk. Of course, I was going to put a stop to them, I figured. I fathomed they were probably attacking because of me. This wasn’t some far-off, narcissistic assumption, though, they were really going to raze the entire earth to the ground because of me.
Because I had failed my A-Levels, I needed to retain another year, everybody knew that — my friends, of course, knew that. I had stopped contacting them after receiving my results. Maybe I hated talking to them, now that I was the martyr of failure, or perhaps I was relieving them of the trouble of talking to an idiot. Maybe I just did not want to talk to them. Either ways, I had completely ignored them for up to a year, which was why I had been surprised that they had showed up at the same hawker centre I had been eating at. It wouldn’t come as an intentional visit, since they did live close by, yet I could not throw the fact that they had come here to talk to me…or really, who was I kidding, they were here just to eat. I was just another bystander in their lives. Was that a dark way to look at things? I was just…surrounded by dark thoughts then. Perhaps in the corner of my mind, I had come to the realisation that I had no place left anywhere in the world. Because I had retained, no one I knew was in my class, and I had become alone. And I was never good at conversing- or really anything. Maybe that was why I had failed in the first place.
And because I did not know how to communicate, my only choice of action faced with people I did not fit in with was to run away. I had never been good at physical activity, obviously, given my subpar grades, but still my way of running was so slapstick it could be considered a comedy act of its own. I slipped and fell, was what I meant to say. From what I could tell, there was a graze on my knee, and blood was starting to ooze out from the now damaged pores. I had run all the way to the garbage disposal outside the hawker centre, so no one was in my vicinity. My leg wasn’t brutally smashed or any of the like, it really just hurt overall. I got up.
“Good vibrations, human. I am Barbatos, what you humans call an alien.”
I turned around. Some kind of blue skinned cosplayer had struck a pose behind me. She had antennas on her head, a tight fitting green outfit, and a green visor. I pretended not to notice. To think! That Singapore had started to run amok with such weirdos!
“Ah, no, young man. I was but greeting you. Please do not leave.”
I really wanted to get out, given my previously mentioned lack of conversation skills, as well as the blatant lack of interest in involvement.
“Your leg.” She nodded in the direction of my leg.
“Thank you, I can tell that is indeed my leg.”
“Nay, it has swayed from its path of harmony! Come quickly! This dissonance has to be patched! Yes! Indeed! In spite of your imperfection, I love you humans more than I can bear! Therefore, I invite you onto my ship, my UFO, as you people call it, to receive the appropriate treatment!”
Just as she had said that, a silver object phased into existence. Gradually, some sort of silvery metallic circle had materialised above our heads. She was…really an alien.
“I…have to go. I respectfully decline.”
Of course, I was both weirded out and scared. I might just have become the first human in contact with an alien.
“Ah! But a pity! I pity your shrinking away at the gravity of your dissonance, yet I am extremely pained, and extremely disappointed!” She perked her head up. “Then! I shall impede you no more. Farewell, disappointing human.” With that, she was beamed up onto her ship, and as gradually as it had appeared, it disappeared.
I had…insulted her, probably. By declining her offer. That was what I gathered. A day after I had met the alien, the UFO had sent out a shockwave, disabling any electronic appliance in a radius. The next shockwave would surely send Singapore reeling. It was the most boring way of invasion, yet I felt the chills approaching it. With my sling bag plastered against my sweaty back, wallet in hand, I could not bear to glance up at the baleful dish in the sky. If I surrendered myself up to the aliens, walked into their ship and followed them onto their planet, they would surely leave Earth alone.
I couldn’t help but feel a sort of excitement welling up inside me, or was that fear? Either way, I wouldn’t be able to tell once my brains had been splayed open on their operating table. Or was the thought of death exciting to me? I could not comprehend my feelings. I was doing a great deal of good to society at large, by doing this. With that said, it wasn’t like I had fit in at all, so maybe this really was the best solution for both myself and the world. Either way, I was saving the world. This was for the sake of humanity.
I took a step forward. I froze. But still, completely saying goodbye to this world…I had some reservations. One couldn’t be expected to be completely brave about this, can he? And yet I feel so inclined to walk to my death. I steady myself, and tell myself something comforting. It wasn’t as if I could have gone anywhere with myself. I lacked will and drive, those were things I was bad at as well. I would have been better off dying in a ditch somewhere than be a burden to society. That was just sad. I thought about my parents. They would be disappointed, probably, if I had continued going on. Perhaps this could be something in a way of atonement. I wouldn’t be able to live my life fully anyway, so this wasn’t a punishment, this was a solution. This was more merciful. After a whole ten minutes of struggle, it seemed that going on the ship was the best option for me after all. I couldn’t help but sigh.
This was for the sake of humanity.
I took another step towards the hotel. I did not know how I was going to go in, but if I had to, I’d shout their greeting of “good vibrations”. I was sure they’d hear — I had finally been able to look up at the UFO, but…where was it? Had it activated some sort of invisibility cloak? That wouldn’t help much in intimidation factor, would it?
I rubbed my eyes and looked up again. It really had disappeared. Mired in confusion, I asked someone walking by.
“Umm, excuse me, but what happened to the giant UFO in the sky?”
The pedestrian looked confused. “UFO? Sorry, I haven’t seen such a thing.”
Did the aliens…leave? Had they had enough fun tormenting the nation of Singapore? Or humanity in general? I took a good look at the sky and the sun burned my eyes. For some unknown reason, tears began to stream from my eyes. I did not know if they were of joy or to shield my corneas from UV light.
I should have been incredibly, incredibly relieved that I would be able to live another day, but — I had some reservations. Maybe some residual part of me had wanted to board the ship; maybe, I didn’t know why, but maybe. I was unable to look at the sky any longer and cast my gaze downwards. I knew I would have to go back home, but I paced around aimlessly on the walkway. I would go home, and take a shower, and eat dinner together with my family, and sleep to get ready for the next day.
Although I was not staring at the sun anymore, I couldn’t help but cry for a selfish reason that had nothing to do with the fate of humanity.